Q. Is there still a rule about who gets on and off an elevator first?
A. The only “rule” is a very simple one: The person, whether male or female, who is nearest the door gets on the elevator first and holds the “door open” button, or the door, if no button, as a courtesy for those following. When it’s time to exit, again, the person nearest the door steps off first. The only time gender and tradition might make a difference is when a man and a woman are in an elevator alone. In this case he may let the woman go first, just as through any other door.
Q. How many times do I have to return a phone call? I have a friend who never answers her phone when I call her back. I leave a message and then figure it’s up to her to call again. She says it is my responsibility to call until I reach her.
A. Your friend is not correct. You have done your due diligence in returning her call and leaving a message that says you did. Your expectation that she will call you back when it is convenient for her to do so is entirely reasonable.
Q. When I have correspondence to my attorney do I use “Esquire” or “Esq.” on the envelope or on the inside address?
A. It is correct to use either, but when you do, you do not precede his or her name with “Mr.,” “Ms.,” “Miss,” or “Mrs.” You simply write Michael C. Yusi, Esq. You never write “Dear Mr. Yusi, Esq.” as a salutation; you write Dear Mr. Yusi.” If you are writing personal correspondence to your attorney and his or her spouse, you write to Mr. and Mrs. Michael C. Yusi, or Ms. Ellen Baines and Mr. Michael Yusi, no Esq. or Esquire.
Q. I have a friend who talks about her “onocologist.” That extra syllable makes her look ignorant. Should I correct her?
A. No, but you should seize the next opportunity to pronounce the word correctly in conversation and hope that her mistake will be recognized. When someone mispronounces a word and then asks you if she has said it correctly, you can answer, “I believe that is pronounced. . . .” Naturally, when the person mispronouncing a word is your spouse or your child or an extremely close relative or friend, you should correct the pronunciation, but only in private, not in front of other people, which would embarrass the other person to a greater extent than your correcting him or her will be embarrassing. The one time when you might correct a casual acquaintance immediately is when your name or another family member’s name is mispronounced. In that case, you might say, at the appropriate time, “Actually, my name is pronounced Fizel, not Feezel.” Or “I know our name looks like it is pronounced Blankensteen, but it’s really pronounced Blankenstein, rhymes with fine.”
What’s the polite way to handle a situation? Please send your questions to Catherine Michaels, in care of firstname.lastname@example.org.